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Services: Architecture, Engineering and Construction
Employees: 7,900
Offices: 179
ENR Top Design Firms Rank: #13




Written by:
Richard M. Horeis, AIA, NFPA, ICC
Director, Technical Review Services, Professional Associate

At HDR, architects and engineers are required to understand how a specific code will influence their design, just as they are required to know how to apply theory specific to their discipline.

All levels of production are expected to utilize codes applicable to their projects. It is understood that as an inexperienced individual may have limited ability to lead a design effort, that same individual will have limited exposure to design codes; whether those codes are building, life safety, electrical, mechanical or structural. But that inexperience does not excuse them from attempting to research the codes.

Quite often the challenge to the code-inexperienced staff is to 'look it up'. HDR has experienced individuals who are focused on codes; that when an answer cannot be found by a staff member, will either assist the production teams or do research themselves to get the answers.

Each project, at the outset, is required to have at the least, primary codes defined. This is probably the easiest question to research. Typically the question can be answered online, or identified by contacting the local authority or authorities having jurisdiction.

Not all code issues can be resolved at the front end of a project; as the design of the facility develops, so does the code analysis. Project review milestones performed by independent (from the project), experienced architects and engineers assure that not only proper design practices are occurring, but also proper code compliance.

As far as being aware of the latest codes and developments, HDR is subscribed to the appropriate code agencies so that employees can receive notifications and updates to the codes. The major code agencies usually also publish a document identifying the updated elements.

Working not only nationally, but also internationally there are many state and municipal codes that have to be maintained and complied with. These changes are monitored and identified to the appropriate offices and staff. However, the staff 'local' to a project is ultimately responsible for maintaining their code database. There is nothing equal to discussing a project with the AHJ early and often.

HDR does keep hard copies of most codes in-house as some still like the weight and feel of the book. Newer on-line accessibility has been provided by organizations such as ICC and NFPA; but HDR also utilizes MADCAD as a 'one-stop-shop' for most of the design codes (all disciplines) we use. If a hard copy of a section is needed, a printer usually is not too far. The online systems are user friendly and are much easier to 'carry' to the job site with a laptop.

Typically, I (and others at HDR) attend seminars put on by ICC, NFPA, ASHE, etc.; especially when new codes are issued. When critical code changes come to light, in-house training is provided, normally through Lunch and Learn programs. We do register these programs with the appropriate associations, such as the AIA so that appropriate credits are awarded to the attendees.


Services: Architecture, Interiors and
Urban Design
Employees: 1,600
Offices: 20
ENR Top Design Firms Rank: #40


Written by:
William J. Schmalz, AIA, LEED AP



Perkins+Will approaches code compliance in several important ways: (1) making the building codes accessible to the entire staff; (2) training the staff so they have a thorough understanding of the principles and requirements of the codes; (3) ensuring, through firm-wide delivery standards, that the documents incorporate the requirements of the codes; and (4) using developments in technology to find new ways to ensure the public safety.

First, Perkins+Will makes the building codes and standards available to all of the staff. With over 20 offices and 1,600 employees, and a practice that designs projects throughout the world, it is no longer possible for Perkins+Will to maintain physical libraries for each office with all of the necessary code and standards books.

It is more the rule than the exception for, as examples, the Chicago office to design an educational facility in Saudi Arabia, or for the Los Angeles office to design a hospital in Baltimore. This requires that a wide range of code books be available to each office.

To a large extent, the solution to this problem has been the development of web-based code services, such as MADCAD, which provide access to many of the most frequently needed codes and standards, including the International Building Code, NFPA, ASTM, as well as local codes for New York, Florida, California and other states. By tailoring its MADCAD subscription to the needs of the firm, Perkins+Will gives every staff member access to the majority of codes needed for most projects.

The second way Perkins+Will ensures code compliance is by making sure that the professionals responsible for project delivery understand the principles and requirements of the applicable codes. Through a combination of in-house training and mentoring and outside seminars, Perkins+Will raises the level of code understanding among the staff.

Perkins+Will has a firm-wide Learning+Development program that allows the most experienced people to share their knowledge with the entire firm. Occurring twice each week, the L+D classes cover a broad range of topics, including codes and standards.

Perkins+Will has also recently started a training program focused specifically for people who are on the verge of becoming project architects. A large portion of this program is called Designing to the Code, covering the basics of occupancy requirements, exiting and fire-resistant construction.

For all the value of the large-scale training classes, nothing beats having junior professionals working directly with experienced architects. Each office has a Technical Director responsible for overall project delivery within the office, and our larger offices can have as many as 15 Senior Project Architects, each with 20+ years of experience. The Senior Project Architect serves as a resource to the project team for code-related or technical issues, as well as performing quality control reviews at each project milestone.

This leads to the third step in ensuring code compliance: the Perkins+Will Project Delivery Manual. This document, located virtually on Perkins+Will's intranet system, establishes the design and documentation requirements for all projects. Critical early deliverables are the Building Code Analysis and the Code Compliance/Life Safety Drawings. The Building Code Analysis identifies, in narrative form, all the code requirements applicable to the project, while the Code Compliance/Life Safety Drawings demonstrate graphically how the building design complies with them. These documents are reviewed and approved by the Senior Project Architect in Schematic Design before the team can proceed to the later phases of design.

With the International Building Code as the basis of most local codes in the U.S and internationally, Perkins+Will makes use of all the resources provided by the International Code Council. Each office is encouraged to have at least one ICC member, so that code interpretations can be requested. Perkins+Will's Quality Assurance Program incorporates the IBC project checklist, a useful tool for developing code analyses. Additionally, staff is encouraged to participate in outside seminars to gain a better understanding of the IBC.

Finally, technology is giving Perkins+Will new tools in meeting code requirements. As more and more projects are being designed using Building Information Modeling (BIM), Perkins+Will is exploring graphic 4-D demonstrations of exiting from high-occupancy spaces and buildings; this will be valuable in showing the level of safety designed into Perkins+Will buildings.

Through a combination of in-house experience, a comprehensive training program, firm-wide project delivery standards, and new developments in technology, Perkins+Will is meeting its responsibility to provide safe environments for the public.


Services:Commercial Construction
Employees: 1,700
Offices: 9
ENR Top Design Firms Rank: #18



Written by:
Chad Meadows
Southeast Division Quality Director


Chad Dorgan, P.E., Ph.D, LEED AP
Vice President, Corporate Quality

There are no two projects at McCarthy that are the same. Located from coast to coast, our projects are complex in nature and include high technology facilities such as hospitals, research laboratories and industrial plants. This diversity means that each project has unique contract requirements, building codes and project-specific requirements.

Due to the complex nature of our projects and their inherent risk, McCarthy has established a proactive and integrated Quality Program. This Quality without Question program establishes client expectations early in the project, with a focus on understanding the details within the project specifications and drawings. This is where having online access to codes and standards becomes an important part of the quality planning process.

Quality planning starts with a review of the specifications, during which our project staff takes note of the referenced codes and standards to understand what the designer is asking us to build to. It is at this point in planning where access to MADCAD becomes a McCarthy differentiator for our clients. Instead of simply looking up the specific codes and standards, we read these in the context of our Quality Process, thus identifying unique aspects of the codes and standards that need to be verified at key points during the project. These verifications include review of the subcontractor’s shop drawings and product data, delivery of equipment and materials, pre-installation meetings, first installation verifications, ongoing verifications and testing, system start-up and project closeout.

For example, on a recent hospital project in the Southeast, our field staff combined the key information from the referenced codes and standards, the specifications, and the subcontractor shop drawings into a master verification checklist. This checklist was then used at the very start of the installation process to verify that construction met all of the design requirements. The checklist was then utilized for follow-up inspections throughout the duration of the installation.

Online access to both historic and the most up-to-date codes and standards helps our engineers, superintendents and managers provide our clients with Quality without Question.